No one needed to look at the scoreboard when this match was over.
The North Carroll girls jumped for joy. The Liberty girls sat on the floor and cried.
North Carroll coach Linda Richards wiped away tears of happiness. Liberty coach Helen Derwin couldn't stop the tears of disappointment.
The Panthers slammed the Lions, 15-5, 15-13, 10-15, 15-10, last night at Liberty in a tense duel that matched North Carroll's power game against Liberty's quickness and overall talent.
With the victory, North Carroll replaced Liberty as Carroll County volleyball champion and gained a share of the Central Maryland Conference title with the Lions, who also are the defending CMC champions.
The power of the Panthers (11-4 overall, 9-3 CMC, 5-1 county) won out behind a strong showing by junior Joy Huber, who had 20 spikes, 14 blocks and a superb long hit to close out the match.
"Joy did it all despite playing on a bad ankle," said Richards. "She got tired in the third game and that hurt us. But our kids came back and hung in there against a good team."
Liberty (11-4 overall, 9-3 CMC, 4-2 county) is good enough to be top seed in the Class 2A Region I playoffs that begin Nov. 10. North Carroll will be seeded second because it has fewer points than the Lions.
"I wish we had this one back," Derwin said. "I'm disappointed for our kids. But give North Carroll a lot of credit."
Derwin said the major problem for her team was too often hitting the ball to Huber's strengths.
"We were hitting right to her hands," said Derwin. "You can't do that to a player of her ability."
Despite Huber's big plays, Derwin said she felt Liberty's Chrissy Primavera was the best player on the floor.
"Chrissy had 14 kills and did a little bit of everything for us," said Derwin. "And Andrea Dixon got 14 points on her serve. I'm sure we'll see them again in the state tournament."
Huber got help from Danielle Arnold and Katy Wilhelm, who both turned in outstanding all-around play.
In the Class 2A District 1 regionals, North Carroll will host Glenelg on Nov. 10 and Liberty will entertain Allegany.